Summary: When Jesus ascended, something changed. Now, he fills everything in every way.
THE ASCENSION: NOW HE’S EVERYWHERE (Ephesians 1:16-23)
A fellow was writing about a scene he had witnessed in the mountains of Colorado. He was driving uphill along a major interstate when he overtook a long freight train going the same way, but at a slower speed. The train was being pushed by 2 locomotives that sounded as if they were straining at full power. He was a bit surprised, having come from the Midwest, and he thought “Is this how they move trains in the mountains? Just 2 engines pushing all that weight?
A few minutes later he came alongside the front of the long string of cars. There he saw 5 more locomotives pulling the train. 7 engines in all. And when he saw that, he learned a lesson…
You see, he had been under a some serious strain for some time. He was feeling tired and wondering whether he could persevere under the pressure. And, seeing the train, it suddenly dawned on him that his life was like that train. In his life, he felt like he was pushing a load uphill with all his strength. He felt like his energy was about to run out. He had forgotten that God was there, that Christ was there, in the lead, in front of his life, pulling with power far greater than his own strength. Christ was there, pulling him through the valleys and mountains of life, and Christ would always be there.
That is the message of Ascension. The word “ascension” comes from the event spoken about in our Scripture lessons for today, the event in Christ’s life that took place 40 days after Easter. The main lesson to learn from the ascension of Jesus Christ is this – now, he’s everywhere.
What are the top four events in the life of Christ? Well, obviously, his birth, his death, his resurrection. And finally, his ascension. 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead, he gathered some of his followers on a mountain, he spoke to them, and then he physically rose into the air, until a cloud hid him from their sight. Why did Jesus do this? And what does this mean for us today? We find the answers to these questions as we consider the Word of God for this morning.
Remember, there was a time when Jesus would only be in one place at a time. During his life, before Easter, Jesus would walk and eat and sleep, just like everyone else. We call that time Jesus’ state of humiliation, when Jesus humbled himself and did not make full use of his divine power.
Then came Easter. Now, Jesus was beginning to make full use of his divine power again. Now, he wouldn’t always walk and sleep like everyone else. He still had a human body, but things were different now. Jesus had risen from the dead – he spent 40 days appearing to his followers, one place at a time, to prove to them that he really had physically risen from the dead.
But now, it was time for that to end. It was time for Jesus to stop being in just one place at a time. It was time for Jesus to be fully glorified again, just as he was before he was born. It was time for things to be different.
Why? Why didn’t Jesus just stay on this earth? That would have meant trouble for you and me. If Jesus would have stayed, what would it have been like to be a Christian? Everyone with an illness would be competing with each other, trying to get healed by him. Remember, if Jesus would have stayed, you could only find him in one place at a time. Everyone would have been competing with each other, trying to get noticed by him. We’d all want him to solve our problems, to provide world peace, to stop wars, to cause our relatives to come to church with us.
What do you think your chances of talking to him would have been? Even if every one of us would only get 20 seconds with Jesus, that would mean that only about a million and a half people a year would get some time with him – and the rest of us would have to wait.
The ascension marks the end of Jesus’ visible presence on this earth, when he’s only in one place at time. The ascension marks the beginning of his invisible presence on this earth, when he’s everywhere at the same time. Look at that passage in the book of Ephesians, especially the last six words: “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be the head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Look at that last phrase – when Jesus ascended into heaven, that was the moment that he began to fill everything in every way.